Land Spirits, Ancestors and Gods, Oh My!

The discipline involved with cultivating relationships with our beloved dead and the spirits of the land is invaluable when it comes to forming relationships and alliances with Deities. When we learn to take part in ongoing devotional practices and keep our commitments with our ancestors and the land, we are then ready to make real and lasting commitments to our Gods. Before we have these fundamental skills and relationships in order, we are more likely to make mistakes and bite off more than we can chew by making promises that we don’t yet know how to keep. There is no such thing as instant gratification in this work. In order to build something worthwhile, you need a strong foundation: devotion, commitment, offerings and respect. Lather, rinse, repeat.

You’ll be amazed how much easier it is to get a Deity to work with you once you have a skill set that makes you a valuable devotee. When you have happy ancestors and land spirits who like you, then the Gods and Goddesses will take note and you will become very interesting to them. Conversely, if you can’t be relied upon to light a candle for grandma or set out offerings for the land spirits, a passing Deity might wonder why they should bother chatting up someone who hasn’t figured out the value of service. And make no mistake, any Deity is going to want you to serve…there is no free lunch. Deities are not congregating about in some astral green room waiting for someone to ask them for stuff so they can cheerfully give it without the expectation of devotion in return.

Because we are human, there is a learning curve. Gods are older, stronger and wiser than we will ever be…and they should be respected. A healthy dose of fear is also appropriate. It is far safer to develop your skills working with your ancestors, who are far more likely to forgive you any foibles, as you start out. Land spirits have been so neglected that they are angry, but are willing to make alliances with those people who treat them respectfully and honor them consistently. By the time you have your ancestral house well-ordered and are on good terms with the spirits of the land, then you can proceed with Deity work secure in the knowledge that you are ready for the next step.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • We should never neglect those spiritual beings who are in fact closest and most accessible to us.

  • I feel like this post would be more useful to its intended audience (people new to Pagan practice) with a list of specific basic practices for honoring land spirits and ancestors. Perhaps an addendum?

  • Interesting. I’ve always recommended that students begin by taking up the devotion of a deity in which they are interested, even before beginning work with the Dead and the Spirits. I see your point about learning discipline, though I think it can be as well learned in deity devotion as otherwise. There are usually deities in any pantheon that are quite peaceful and friendly, and ready to receive and teach students. Brigid or Demeter *can* kick butt, but they are generally compassionate and welcoming.

    In any case, your post is great advice about the importance of working with the non-deity spirits.